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Eating out — thank goodness.

ONCE UPON A TIME…

Once upon a time long, long ago, I worked full-time and invited friends to dinners too. We’d have a children’s table, our large dining-room table extended with a folding table, plus extra places on the upright piano seat with place-mats on the flat surface over the keys. Those days are looonnnngggg gone.

A friend and I had lunch together yesterday. She’s interesting, I love her. She’s a devoted vegan. I didn’t have to worry — we ate out. Friday I’m having dinner with a young vegetarian. He’s my kind-of grandson. He’s been busy and hasn’t had much time for us to get together so I’m delighted. Again, I don’t have to worry — we’re eating out.

WHAT CAN I FIX FOR HER??

During this pandemic, some people won’t eat in restaurants. I respect that. Sometimes one special friend and I have lunch on a park bench nearby. She has definite food needs and always brings the lunch. I want to reciprocate, but aren’t brave enough. What can I fix for her??

MY OLD ARTHRITIC BONES DON’T MAKE APPOINTMENTS

Meanwhile years have passed and everything seems to take more energy. Energy? Where did that go? It eludes me at will and some days I can’t seem to hustle any muscle at all. My old arthritic bones act up whenever THEY choose. They aren’t thoughtful. They never make appointments ahead of time. I can’t picture many dinners happening at my place anymore, which is just as well. What would planning a homemade dinner look like? I’d rather treat when we eat out.

WHAT PEOPLE EAT TODAY IS MORE COMPLICATED

It seems what everyone eats today is more complicated. What my older friends consume is sometimes affected by health issues like high-cholesterol, diabetes, ulcers, medications requiring them to avoid certain foods, or allergies — and goodness knows what.

Do we become delicate flowers with age? Yup! What I used to call a cast-iron stomach doesn’t exist any more! I, myself, have developed allergies! (I’ve been told these develop as we get older, but I also believe some of it is due to chemicals added to our food to extend shelf life.)

MY KIDS ENTERTAIN A LOT

My San Francisco kids do a lot of entertaining. Their friends are younger and don’t seem to be affected as much by medical conditions as my older friends. I guess I’ll just leave the dinner parties to them. If you visit me — let’s eat out.

I shall wear purple…

If you look hard, you can see some purple.


I’m a delicate flower. I’ve got allergies to lots of chemicals, so I’ve never dyed my hair. Tired of lock-downs and not seeing friends, I wanted to do something new. My bright idea was to colour my hair purple.

Do I look good in purple? No! I NEVER wear purple. And did I do a good job? Are you kidding? I did a better job spraying water on my kitchen floor than I did my hair and I’m still trying to get the colour out of my white counter. Still, if you look really hard you can see a little purple. You may laugh. I did.


Someone who loves me enough to tell the truth (and shall remain nameless) emailed: ‘Yes! I see it! But people may just think it is the “blue hair” of old ladies who try to brighten their grey and leave the stuff on too long!’

No matter…

Poet Jenny Joseph

I loved the following poem, ‘Warning’, long before I became old. You may too. Since this is National Poetry Month, this is a good time to revisit it. Enjoy!

‘Warning’ by Jenny Joseph (1932-2018)


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall wear purple

I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired

And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

And run my stick along the public railings

And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

And pick flowers in other people’s gardens

And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

And eat three pounds of sausages at a go

Or only bread and pickle for a week

And hoard pens and pencils and beer-mats and things in boxes.

Guess she didn’t do any better than I did.


But now we must have clothes that keep us dry

And pay our rent and not swear in the street

And set a good example for the children.

We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.


But maybe I ought to practise a little now?

So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised

When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Whatever you do, have fun!!!

Note: Thanks Andrew for helping me find a gentle and safe dye to use.

Whatever happened to my cast iron stomach?

photo by Susan Kauffmann

photo by Susan Kauffmann

I like lobster, but don’t have the courage to kill them, so I only eat it out.

I like lobster, but don't have the courage to kill one

I like lobster, but don’t have the courage to kill one

Years ago, after reacting badly to lobster dinners three times in a row, a friend suggested an allergy. I said I had a cast iron stomach, but finally accepted her idea. I’ve since learned it wasn’t the lobster. Now that I know more about our food supply and the many chemicals added to what we eat, it isn’t surprising that more of us are becoming ill as a result – including me.

Later, I began experiencing sensitivity to fish too — usually after eating it out. I decided my allergy had expanded to anything that lived in water. I consumed no fish or seafood for 15 years, but still often became ill after eating. Things were getting out of control — and scary. I asked to see an allergist.

Tests showed I’m not allergic to fish or shellfish at all, but to sulphites, the preservative seafood is often bathed in when frozen or shipped. It also keeps potatoes white, maintains the color and texture of frozen foods, and is used so often today, it would be impossible to give you a list of foods to avoid. (The allergist warned it was a ‘minefield’ out there.)

It isn’t easy to eat out and have a sulphite-free meal. I ask bewildered servers about preservatives and they look at me with blank expressions. They work in an industry where foods are laden with chemicals and have no training or understanding of what I’m talking about. As for fast food outlets, forget it.

As for fast foods, forget it.

As for fast foods, forget it.

It is almost impossible to find unadulterated foods in our grocery stores either. I read labels when provided, however often the listing of ingredients is not required and there’s no way to know what’s in foods we buy. One chemical or pesticide by itself may be safe enough, but a cocktail of more than one can be deadly.

You can tell when chickens are dizzy, they only have two legs like we do

You can tell when chickens are dizzy, they only have two legs like we do

Hens react to chemicals much as we do. Studies have shown when hens were fed two chemicals in their food, they lost weight, developed diarrhea, shortness of breath, weakness, stumbling and tremors. Exposure to combinations of three caused even more illness, paralysis and death. Tests showed nervous system damage in those birds. (Discover Magazine, August, 1997 — and we’ve done nothing to stop it yet.)

I am concerned by the long list of additives and chemicals I see listed on the food labels I read so carefully — and they don’t even tell us which pesticides were sprayed on the wheat used to make the flour or to keep down bug infestations while the flour is being stored, nor what bakeries are using in their environment. If we add all the pesticides, additives and preservatives we consume in foods we place on our plates, we come up with a potentially harmful or even deadly combination we were never meant to ingest.

These are added to make a longer shelf life possible. Manufacturers and food processors make more money — and we get sick. Is it any wonder we have an epidemic of children suffering with Autism, Attention Deficit Disorder, Asthma and Allergies? That so many people are now suffering with Vestibular Disorders? And I, of the ‘cast-iron stomach’, now struggle with allergies?

I remember when bread got moldy if it wasn’t consumed quickly. Cookies got stale, didn’t taste right

The cookies my generation gave our babies now contains preservatives

The cookies my generation gave our babies now contain preservatives

and had to be tossed. The same cookies my generation fed our babies now have preservatives in them. (I checked.) They can stay ‘fresh’ forever. Read the labels……

Do we value money more than our own children?

**Check labels for sulphites as: sodium metabisulphite, potassium metabisulphite, sodium bisulphite, potassium bisulphite, sodium sulphite, sodium dithionite, sulphurous acid, and Sulphur dioxide – and this is only part of the story……

My grandson Remy when he was little. More treasured than any amount of money

My grandson Remy when he was little. More treasured than any amount of money